Dodgers Need Another Outfielder -- or Do They

Like the old custom of not allowing any of your daughters to marry until the oldest ties the knot, uberagent Scott Boras is parceling out his talented players in a particular order, first CC Sabathia, next Teixeria and then probably he will allow some of his other prospects off the leash. The Dodgers are (unofficially) waiting for the price to deflate on Manny Ramirez.

General manager Ned Colletti, said if Ramirez cannot be signed, they would be able to get by with Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones. But the difference in "getting by" and "contending", offensively at least, will require netting another big bat.

The Ramirez Traveling Carnival (now apparently making a stop in New York) may continue until spring, which would probably find the Dodgers either 1] out of spending money or 2] uninterested since they still must bolster both the starting rotation and the bullpen.

OK, if that is the case are the Dodgers to nail down a free agent outfielder now? If you think so, what happens if Jones suddenly remembers how to hit a ball hard? For $21 million, you can bet he'll play. But they won't know if until at least the middle of March.

Outfielder Bobby Abreu has passed out 28-page statistical breakdowns that put him in pretty good company. Abreu has a total of two All-Star Game appearances, one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger award to his credit. He has never finished higher than 14th in the Most Valuable Player balloting, and he has led the league in a grand total of two offensive categories -- ranking first in the NL in triples in 1999 and in doubles three years later.

And according to his glossy resumé: he has joined Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson as he only players with 200 homers and 300 stolen bases while maintaining a .400 on-base percentage. He is one of five players with 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored in each of the past two seasons. He has six straight 100-RBI seasons is third-longest among active players behind Rodriguez and Pujols. In 2008, Abreu amassed 35 or more doubles for the 10th straight year. Abreu has the longest-running streak of 20-steal seasons in the game, with 10. The only big leaguers with longer streaks are Willie Mays, Billy Williams, Pete Rose and Cal Ripken Jr.

--At the present, the Dodgers payroll is (about) $72.75 million for seven players -- Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal, Hiroki Kuroda, Andruw Jones, Mark Loretta, Juan Pierre and Jason Schmidt -- plus another $2.5 million in buyouts for Brad Penny and Gary Bennett. Jones, Schmidt and Loretta come off the payroll next year.

--The Dodgers have now re-signed Furcal and third baseman Casey Blake, who agreed to a three-year, $17.5 million deal with a $6 million club option for 2012. They also have added veteran Mark Loretta, signing him to a one-year, $1.25 million deal ostensibly to share time with Blake DeWitt at second base. And with sweet-swinging James Loney still a fixture at first, the Dodgers can now turn their attention to other areas.

The list of veteran pitchers the club is looking at includes left-handers Randy Johnson and Randy Wolf and right-hander Jon Garland.

Colletti still would like to add another reliever or two, as well. If the Dodgers don't re-sign Ramirez, they likely would stand pat with their four remaining outfielders, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

Notes and Quotes
--OF Jason Repko, who was in some danger of being non-tendered, wound up being offered a contract just before the Dec. 12 deadline. Repko made $487,500 in 2008 after avoiding arbitration last winter. He appeared in 22 major league games, batting .167.

--RHP Scott Proctor was non-tendered. He missed more than two months with elbow tendinitis and wound up making only 41 appearances for the Dodgers after avoiding arbitration last winter when he agreed to a one-year, $1,115,000 deal. Proctor lives not far from Vero Beach, Fla., and with the Dodgers having moved their spring training operations from there to Arizona, there were whispers he simply wanted to pitch for a team closer to home.

--Joe Beimel, who is also non-tendered, looked like he would sign with Detroit but the Tigers never made an offer. Beimel received interest from more than 10 clubs before the meetings in Las Vegas. His agent said it's likely the pitcher won't sign until after the New Year, but "we still expect a few other clubs to come forward as their agendas progress." Beimel posted a 5-1 record with a 2.02 ERA in 72 appearances with the Dodgers last year. He gave up only three extra base hits -- all doubles -- and he's allowed only one home run spanning 154 appearances over the past two seasons.  

--INF Angel Berroa was non-tendered, but the Dodgers have a strong interest in re-signing him. Berroa made $4.75 million this year and wasn't expected to fill much more than a utility role in 2009. But it was to Berroa's advantage not to agree to terms and to at least test the market before possibly taking a considerable pay cut to re-sign with the Dodgers.

--RHP Yhency Brazoban was non-tendered, a move that came as no surprise. Brazoban has battled shoulder, elbow and weight issues for years and has made just 11 big-league appearances over the past three seasons. He received $540,000 this year.

--CF Andruw Jones has played five games for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League. He is 3-for-16 (.188) with eight strikeouts. Jones is attempting to regain his stroke after battling through injuries and one of the worst first seasons with a new club by a marquee free agent in history. He batted .158 with 76 strikeouts in 238 plate appearances for the Dodgers, hitting only three home runs. Rafael Furcal went 2-for-5 in his first game in the winter league.

--OF Xavier Paul cut short his stint with Mexicali in the Mexican Winter League to deal with a family matter, but not before he batted .293 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 164 at-bats. Paul, who will turn 24 in February, probably won't have a shot of making the team out of spring training because of a lack of available outfield spots, and that is even if the club doesn't re-sign Manny Ramirez. He could be used as trade bait after batting .316 with 28 doubles at Class AAA Las Vegas this year.

By the Numb3rs: 6-- Former first-round draft picks who were on the Dodgers' regular-season-ending roster. They were OF Jason Repko (1999), 1B James Loney (2002), RHP Chad Billingsley (2003), LHP Scott Elbert (2004), INF Blake DeWitt (2004) and LHP Clayton Kershaw (2006). Several times in 2008, the Dodgers fielded a starting lineup that included three first-round picks, the first time they had done that since 1989.

Quote to Note:--"What Takashi did here in Los Angeles was tremendous. We have great respect for what he did and also for who he is. We know the last two-plus months of the season were tough on him in a lot of ways, and that was unfortunate. We will leave the door open and see if there is a way we can bring him back." -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, after non-tendering closer Takashi Saito to avoid going to arbitration with him.

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